18th Century English Portrait Of An Elegant Lady - By Thomas Hudson (1701-1779)


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"18th Century English Portrait Of An Elegant Lady - By Thomas Hudson (1701-1779)"
Period Portraits are thrilled that conservation has has revealed this fine 18th century portrait of an elegant beauty, to be an original work by the British painter Thomas Hudson (1701-1779).
This painting is a high quality example of Hudson’s work. The visible brushstrokes in the sitter’s face is most characteristic of the artist. This include the horizontal strokes for the eyes and mouth, which are strongly contrasted to the verticals evident in the nose, cheeks and edge of the face. Fortunately, and in contrast to many other examples, these details have been beautifully preserved. Equally fine is the drapery. The contrast between the thick white impasto and the smooth blue velvet of her cloak speaks of the painting’s quality.
One particularly unusual feature of this portrait is the sitter’s pose. It is undeniable that the unusual dynamism of the painting is in the Lady’s crossed arms. Despite the passing of two hundred and fifty years, the open character of this lady makes quite the impression. This further enhanced by the sumptuous red jewels, diamonds and pearls that decorate her dress. The string of pearls, that cascades from her hair down to her breast, is a clever artistic trick to allow our eyes to move vertically across the canvas. It must be remarked upon that these dress and jewel accessories greatly influenced the early portraits of Joseph Wright of Derby who studied with Hudson.
Thomas Hudson (1701-1779) During the 1740s Hudson became one of Britain’s leading portrait painters. He had trained as a youth with his father-in-law the theorist and painter Jonathan Richardson, whose bold Baroque portraiture he absorbed and built upon. The earliest records of his work date to the late 1720s, where the artist began splitting his time between London and the West Country. Like many painters of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, he was often drawn to Bath to paint the wealthy sitters this spa town attracted. His studio in London became a hive of activity of wealthy patrons and aspiring pupils. Amongst his pupils were Joshua Reynolds, Joseph Wright of Derby and John Hamilton Mortimer. Hudson threw in his lot with other aspiring artists of the British School, and regularly met with the likes of Hogarth, Hayman, Ramsay and Rysbrack at the Old Slaughter’s Coffee House in St Martin’s Lane. He collaborated with the painter Joseph van Aken, who painted the drapery of many of his finest works. This collaboration shows how great the demand for the artist’s brush had become.
Returning to the crossed arms, this same pose was most notably employed in some early pictures by Joshua Reynolds, one of Hudson’s most famous pupils. Reynolds’s portraits of Miss Kitty Fisher (1759) at Petworth and Elizabeth Countess of Berkley (1757) show both women in this very same physical arrangement. It is possible that the composition had originated in some old master painting or drawing, of which Hudson was an avid collector of. The Dutch school, including the likes of the followers of Rembrandt, often showed figures sitting at window sills with their arms folded looking outwards in this fashion. Hudson is more famous for painting his sitter’s in Van Dyck dress and compositions borrowed by this earlier seventeenth century artist. Although Reynolds had dared to painter his sitter’s hands in the aforementioned examples, a difficult body part with which painters have always struggled, Hudson has neatly hidden them underneath her velvet cloak.
One wonders whether this painting, which may well have been completed during the 1750s, may have represented the growing competition between both artists during this decade once Reynolds had left Hudson’s studio in 1743 and returned from his Grand Tour in 1752. Equally, may Hudson have painted this earlier, and thus influenced the young Reynolds? We may only speculate.
Although Hudson has come to represent the period just before the meteoric rise of the likes of Reynolds and Gainsborough, his portraits are quintessentially British. He captured the likenesses of many leading aristocrats, military and cultural figures of his day. This includes capturing the most enduring image of the composer George Frederic Handel. Compared with some of the less inspired paintings given to him, this painting remains a very dynamic and instantly attention grabbing one.
This fine painting is in an excellent state of conservation and is offered in a fine eighteenth century carved and gilded frame with sanded slip.
Higher resolution images on request. Worldwide shipping available:
Canvas: 25" x 30” / 64cm x 77cm. Frame: 34” x 39” / 87cm x 99cm.
Price : $21,290
Period: 18th century
Style: Baroque
Condition : Excellent condition

Material : Oil painting
Width : 87cm
Height : 99cm
Depth : 3cm

Reference : 387
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